How does a tenkara rod work?

In tenkara one just uses a rod, line and fly. A fixed length of line connects to the tip of the telescopic rod. Casting the fly to where you think the fish are is very quick to learn and intuitive. Landing the fish even more so. Watch the video below to find out more and read through the page to learn more about how to use a tenkara rod and improve your tenkara fishing skills and fly fishing technique.


How to use a tenkara rod

Using a telescopic tenkara fly fishing rod is very intuitive. The entire rod is collapsed inside its handle section. You just remove the plug and extend the segments out. Read below and watch the video on how to use your tenkara rod.

An illustration of using a tenkara rod.

Opening a tenkara rod

1) Remove rod plug.
2) Tilt the rod down slightly to expose the tenkara rod tip.
3) Keeping the hard tip of the rod inside the main segment, expose the braided tip material (the lillian), and attach the line to the rod tip. (keeping the hard tip inside will prevent a broken tenkara rod).
4) Once your line is attached, hold the rod handle segment near the opening with one hand. With the other hand pull the tenkara rod tip, and each subsequent segment out, sliding them out between your fingers. Starting with the tip pull each piece out completely until the next segment comes out and becomes snug. Do this in order. Pieces should feel snug, not overly tight.

Closing a tenkara rod

To collapse the tenkara rod, simply start by pushing the segments back into the handle, in order, starting with the thickest segment first and making your way to the tip of the rod. You may leave your tenkara fly line tied to the rod tip, and, when you have collapsed the entire rod, wind the line around a tenkara line holder and move on to the next stop. If you’re ready to pack up for the rest of the day, pull the tag end of your line to remove the line from the rod and stow both away.

Should you have any problems with your tenkara rod, take a look at the rod troubleshooting page for easy solutions to common problems.

Tenkarausa icebreaker

Tenkara Casting techniques

An illustration of holding a tenkara rod. Casting with tenkara is very intuitive for any angler, you will get it after just a few casts. The basic concept is that you will move your rod tip back quickly, stop at the vertical position (12 o'clock) to throw the line back and make the rod flex. And, then move the rod tip forward, stopping at roughly 10 o'clock in front of you. making your line move forward and the fly hit the target. Having an index finger on top of the handle helps stop at the vertical position more naturally and improves accuracy. Watch the video below for more information on casting with tenkara.

Casting with a tenkara rod becomes very obvious when you have the rod in hand, it is a bit similar to throwing a ball at a target, your brain does most of the work after a few attempts. The videos below will show you how to best cast with tenkara as well as techniques for using your tenkara fly and also how to land fish with tenkara.

  • Learn How to cast with tenkaratenkara-shirt

    Learn How to cast with tenkara

    Casting with tenkara rods is not difficult. In fact, we find it to be a very intuitive thing to do. Learn how to cast tenkara rods in this video with Daniel Galhardo....

  • Techniques for tenkaraTenkara techniques

    Techniques for tenkara

    Tenkara places more emphasis on technique rather than gear. One way to simplify is to reduce the number of fly choices and try different techniques. In Japan I’ve...

  • Pause-and-drift technique and landingPause-and-drift technique for tenkara

    Pause-and-drift technique and landing

    Here’s a good video shot at Mossy Creek, Virginia, demonstrating the effective use of the pause-and-drift technique for tenkara. It also perfectly illustrates how...


Landing fish with tenkara is intuitive


An illustration of casting and landing a fish with tenkara rod.

Landing fish with tenkara is very intuitive. You simply angle the rod back, and reach for the line or the fish. Think of cane-pole fishing you may have done as a kid. Tenkara nets can help land your fish with tenkara rods. You can learn more about tenkara nets here. And, stay tuned for Tenkara USA’s new net announcement coming in the Fall of 2020, and get updates about our tenkara net here!

How to set up tenkara rods, +tenkara knots

Learn how to set up your tenkara rod. In this section we share all the knots you use: how to connect your tenkara line to your rod, tippet to your line, and fly to tippet. The main knot we like recommending for tenkara is actually a fisherman's knot as in the diagram below.

Here is the complete tenkara rod setup from start to finish.

An illustration of a tenkara rod set up.

Setup tenkara video

An illustration of tying tenkara knot.

Tenkara Fly Tying: Learn how to tie tenkara flies

The tenkara fly embodies the spirit of tenkara in its simplicity and effectiveness, and there is nothing more gratifying than to catch fish on a fly you tied yourself! Learn how to tie tenkara flies and be rewarded with the experience. You can also shop for tenkara flies here

Tying tenkara flies can be as simple or complex as you want it. Here are a few of the videos on tenkara fly tying.

  • How to tie tenkara flies: The Ishigaki...A tenkara fly.

    How to tie tenkara flies: The Ishigaki...

    How to tie tenkara flies: The Ishigaki Kebari™ Materials: 1) Size 12 hook (this can vary according to preference, size 12 is the one Ishigaki uses most often) 2)...

  • Mr. Yoshida ties a Kenbane tenkara flyA tenkara fly being made.

    Mr. Yoshida ties a Kenbane tenkara fly

    Mr. Takashi Yoshida is an innovative fly tyer based in Japan. Here he shows how to tie a tenkara fly using the Alula feather of a pheasant, known in Japanese as the...

  • Hiroto Sasaki, Tying a Tenkara Fly Without...A tenkara fly.

    Hiroto Sasaki, Tying a Tenkara Fly Without...

    Our favorite thing about this video is the way Mr. Sasaki finishes off his tenkara fly. Watch him tie his fly without a vise, and then the unique technique he uses to...

You can find more fly-tying videos here.

tenkara – the book

Now in its third printing! Order here
After years of learning tenkara directly from the masters, Daniel's much anticipated book is finally shipping! At 216 pages, this book will show you all you need to tenkara, and the stories in its pages will take you along Daniel's journey of learning tenkara.


A tenkara rod is a rod designed for fixed-line fly-fishing. It is a long, telescopic rod typically made of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or graphite. The fly line is attached directly to the rod tip and is controlled manually by the angler during casting. A fly rod, on the other hand, is typically shorter than a tenkara rod and is designed with multiple sections that are joined together to form a longer rod. Traditional fly rods used in Western fly-fishing have a reel attached.

Tenkara rods offer several benefits for anglers.

  • Simplicity: The absence of a reel and the use of a fixed-length line attached directly to the rod tip eliminate the need for complex equipment and setups.

  • Lightweight and portable: The telescopic construction of tenkara rods allows them to collapse down to a small size, making them highly portable and easy to carry.

  • Precise and delicate presentations: The long and flexible nature of tenkara rods allows for precise and delicate fly presentations.

  • Versatility: The length of a tenkara rod provides extended reach, enabling anglers to fish in tight spots, reach across currents, or navigate overhanging branches and obstacles.

  • Reduced line management: With a tenkara rod, there is no need to manage a traditional fly line.

Tenkara rods are sturdy fly-fishing rods made of carbon fiber or graphite and capable of landing larger fish. At Tenkara USA, we’ve seen large fish, including 29-inch pike and 7-lb bass, salmon, and carp, being caught on our tenkara rods. If you want to catch bigger fish, consider the Ito or Amago, Tenkara USA’s big fish rods.

The casting distance achievable with a tenkara rod depends on several factors, including the length of your rod and the length of your tenkara line, the weight of your line, and your casting technique. Generally, with a longer line and rod, you can cast further than with a shorter rod and line. We’ve seen anglers be able to cast over 30 feet with a tenkara rod.